Here we are again, folks. We’re entering the third year (since I can’t do math), and I am still using the Quell pain relief device (give or take two weeks when I forgot to wear it because my schedule was so disrupted that I forgot).
Five bands, who knows how many electrodes — both normal and the new sport model, which I very much prefer in these extremely humid summer months — and two Quell models later, we’ve made it to this point.
Well, I still like the Quell!
At one point before I upgraded to the new model, I feared that either my pain was getting worse or I was becoming sensitized to the electric current. Turning it up didn’t help, but I still couldn’t go without wearing it for very long before I was overcome with pain. That has been my overall plan, you know. To eventually go without wearing it, trying to set myself to absolute zero to see what my pain really is. I’ve been throwing medication at my pain since the age of 17. Surely it’s grown into some hydra demon, magnified into a creature with strength it could not possibly have without the fuel I’ve been supplying? What if I cut off that supply? What if I set it back to where it started and we began again? What would that pain actually be like?
But it’s been so hard to get there, friends. Even removing a single Lyrica pill — 25 mg — has resulted in rebound migraines and lightning in my hands and feet. My neurologist says this isn’t withdrawal, but indications that I actually need to increase the pills. I would not be in withdrawal so soon, he says. Only one pill? That means the pain is there, waiting.
So does that mean nerve pills forever, I asked?
You might be on at least one or two kinds of pills for the rest of your life, he said.
I realized I was kind of okay with that. One or two types of pills is better than seven or eight, which I’m currently taking. At least I’d be consolidating. Fewer co-pays!
At the Meet & Greet event last month, I was surprised when the Neurometrix team offered me the updated Quell. First of all, I didn’t even know there was an updated version (like, I don’t know if it’s sold as a 2.0 version or what), and second, I wasn’t anticipating anything except coffee and fruit. So color me surprised when I drove home with a new gadget to try. And the new version works. So. WELL. It turns on every half hour instead of every hour, and the electrical pulses are stronger. Within minutes I knew this was the device I needed, and I felt calmer in light of my recent neurology appointment. It wasn’t all a disaster.
The new Quell is great. It works better, it hits harder, and it lets me do more. Hell, I’m able to weed the garden on good days. That’s an activity that requires me to kneel down and bend over for an extended period of time, which activates all the muscles and bones that usually protest. Coupled with the sports band — highly necessary in this Massachusetts summer, where it’s been 80-degrees-plus and humid — I’ve been able to make it through my pain flares. And while I’ve been flaring, which is expected in humid weather, I know it’d be worse without the Quell. How do I know that? Because I’ve had flares without the Quell, and jeeze, they are terrible. Like, my God.
So I’ve been wearing this thing for three years now. I still answer questions about it frequently, and many people assume I’ve permanently injured my knees. It hasn’t hit the mainstream conversation. Celebrities aren’t wearing them on the red carpet. People don’t quite know what it is. I get questioning looks when I change the band from one leg to the other while out at a restaurant or at a movie. But it’s still very heartening to see this from a friend on SnapChat when she’s shopping at Target (I added the text):
I am so happy that I’ve had this little gadget for the past three years. I’m excited to see what Neurometrix comes up with next, because I know that they must be cooking up something incredible in their laboratory. They have the most dedicated team imaginable, and they are only looking to help people with chronic pain.
So, thank you, Neurometrix, for giving me a piece of my life back.